My nine-year-old friend Sydney and I get together once a month or so to discuss a book that we’ve both read, the writing life, and (sometimes) school. To me, Sydney in all her realness is the future of reading, writing, bookstores, and libraries; and it’s always a treat for me to hear her ideas, comments, and insights into the books we’ve chosen to read together.
She sent me a book review that she wrote for school of H. M. Bouwman’s The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap, the novel we just discussed last week (over lunch at a Thai restaurant). Sydney liked this book better than I did. I felt that in some ways it was two different novels, one about Snowcap and one about Lucy; and I wasn’t convinced the author combined them effectively. Sydney definitely saw my point. And we both agreed that there was too much foreshadowing. We wanted to discover what happened as we turned the pages: we didn’t want someone telling us what was coming. (That’s why I tend to ignore the jacket copy of anything I’m about to start reading.)
Here is Sydney’s book report. If I were her teacher (and not her friend), I would definitely grade this with an A. You will note that she gave the novel a very high rating (8 ¾ out of a possible 10). After we talked for a while, Sydney allowed as though this might be a tad too high a rating—I’m using my own words here, not hers.
Our next book? Betty Macdonald’s recently re-issued Plum and Nancy.
Now, over to Sydney:
Guest Blog by Sydney Armstrong
This book is about two girls who live on the Colay Islands. Snowcap is the English Child Governor of one big island,Tathenland, which the British have taken over. Lucy is from the native Colay tribe. They are much alike: they both love telling stories; they both love Lucy’s baby brother, Rob; and they both have a birthmark on their faces. They meet one day when Lucy takes Rob for a walk.
The evil Protector and his helper, Renard, are searching for Snowcap to murder her so he can become king of Tathenland; and the Colay are being blamed for it. Lucy also is told by the Gray Lady of the Mountain that because her brother will be the last baby boy to be born on their island, Sunset, she must take him to a desert shaman called Beno.
Philip, Snowcap’s tutor who dreams of becoming what he calls a Great Author, gets together with Adam, who takes care of the horses, and together they embark on their own ambitious journey to find Snowcap and punish her malicious Protector. The two girls wander back into Tathenland and steal or, as they call it, “borrow” Snowcap’s gentle, kind, horse, Peat. The friends travel on him to the desert, where they find Beno (who is the Gray Lady’s son) and learn healing and other very important lessons under his guidance.
Meanwhile, Philip and Adam struggle to survive in the vast and enormous wilderness. When Snowcap and Lucy come back, they meet up with Philip and Adam, who are more than relieved to see them, though they are not so sure about Lucy at first, since she is Colay. They all go back to Tathenland and turn Sir Markham, the Protector, and Renard in.
I like this book because as the story intertwines, you really start to care for the characters and see through their eyes. Sometimes I didn’t like it because at times it was very difficult to understand why something could happen. I learned that two people who you believe are quite different actually sometimes are very alike and form the best friendships of all. I am also discussing this book with some one else, which will be extremely interesting. It made me wonder that if somebody was trying to poison me, if I would be as brave as Snowcap and run away. I am not entirely sure about what I would rate it, but I think I would give it an eight and three quarters.